What strategies and tactics are successful in increasing awareness of Wikipedia projects in a specific geographic region and how can Wikimedia empower people to implement these strategies and tactics?
The strength of Wikimedia projects is their independence. When a strong local community is formed, the local wiki will develop itself. Therefore, it is first important to help the development of local communities and chapters. A local chapter will know best how to promote the local project in the local society/culture. A local project shouldn't have to invent the wheel again, so valuable advice about general project and community development should be available when asked for.
To bring people from different projects together can be done by giving meta a larger role in sharing experience and knowledge about community and project building. Meta could host wiki-embassies and wikiprojects shared by multiple projects, corners where users from different projects can share information. Most contributors to meta are at the moment admins and wiki-politicians. The user type that adds content should be encouraged to join too.
These are the practical ideas I have imagined so far. Helping local projects:
- By monitoring their development. A short yearly report (at meta) could raise awareness of the problems and advantages of a certain project.
- By offering help when problems are encountered in an active (but not authoritarian) way. After every report experienced users from other projects will have the opportunity to post advice and comments.
Improve the sharing/exchange of content:
- If a wikiproject exists at multiple projects (example: en|it|fr|pl|sv|pt|de|etc) an umbrella project page could be made at meta, where all discussions that don't exclusively have local importance should go. What happens now is that everyone is inventing their own wheel, a waste of time and energy! Besides, the page at meta can be the place where users from small projects can raise questions about content that can be discussed/answered by the experts of larger projects. Meta-wikiprojects will also encourage participation in meta by the type of user that only adds content and isn't interested in wikipolitics.
Improve the sharing of knowledge about project and community building:
- What I meant by a wiki-embassy is not the thing you'll find at many smaller projects, but a project page at meta where a local wiki presents itself (differences with other projects, what the community finds important, how they work, etc). Many wikis have different guidelines/rules, which can be confusing for a new user accustomed with another project. There should be an 'ambassador' for every project too, one (or more) user(s) to man the embassy. Their task would be to notice the local community when there are developments at meta and vice versa, and to write the yearly report.
How is this practical.. When you report, what do you report on. What are the criteria for development.. Take for instance incubator; only 100% localisation effort triggers interest of the language committee to consider a new project. Practical, people know what they need to do.
Writing a report when you do not know the languages is bizarre because what do you report and how does it help even inform? When you report on a project based on statistics, say so and we can automate the process of gathering data. However, what are we going to do with this as it is the communities of these projects who have to understand their position.. How are we going to entice them to do better? How do we know that our suggestions make sense ? The 1000 "must have" articles for instance are not bad but several of the suggested articles only have merit in particular cultural settings.
When projects are small, maybe "one man bands" why should they be detracted by writing reports ? or writing on Meta ? When you say there should be, how are you going to make it so? What is the benefit to THEM ? Thanks..
This question was about local projects, not necessarily about small projects. Please read my answer in that way too. No form of outward communication should be forced on any project, yet they can (and imho should) at least be offered better ways and means of communication. A one-man project in the incubator isn't going to need or create an embassy. However, many projects do have enough manpower to communicate with others.
How am I going to make it so? What I did was just some brainstorming. I am not going to make anything so, neither is this strategic planning project. I thought (correct me if I'm wrong) the goal is to advise, not to implement or to force. Attempts to implement guidelines by the foundation have in the past been unsuccessful. For bad or for good, the foundation is limited to an advisory or accommodating role. Neither should any discussion at meta automatically mean a community should do this or that.
If the language barrier is a problem, a tiny project will not use the 1000 'must-have' subjects list, since they won't be able to understand it (off-topic: the list is imho of rather bad quality in its current form). If language isn't a problem, small projects will have more benefit from an interwiki Q/A-page at meta than from that list.
Reports can contain data from statistics (content/users/pages/vandalism) with some small comments. If local decisions/solutions about community problems were made, these could be reported too. For example, were the Dutch wikipedia to accept a guideline about reliability of sources, the fact could appear in their annual report. That could be followed by a discussion of the type: 'why didn't you guys have this guideline before'. If the Hungarian wiktionary switches to Flagged Revisions, they could report about their personal experience with it. Discussing differences brings to light potential new solutions and their advantages/disadvantages. It is a way to make all projects more aware of potentially beneficial progress and solutions made by others. Anyway, I was just brainstorming and a yearly report is just one way to communicate. A regularly updated project profile page at meta is another way. Note that currently, some chapters make regular reports at meta already (), and many projects do have embassies and ambassadors in their own space (). My idea was simply to extend the first to projects themselves and the latter to meta.
The incubator projects are too small to matter, they have their own process to become realised. What makes a "local" project is not defined. From my perspective, if we come up with strategies that will grow any project, particularly the projects that are not in the top 10 in traffic, I think we have a fine approach. This project is not about Asia, Africa, Europe and with my approach it is practical again.
There are plenty of one man bands ... Any and all projects not in the top 50 are likely to be projects where individuals may have a strong influence on a project. When the WMF provides information ON the projects, it is for the projects to decide what they do with it. In this way the WMF does not interfere but can provide metrics that help understand what makes a difference in the development of a project. When we inform what people are looking for, what the new artiles are that are read most, you help by growing traffic. This in turn may grow the editor community. Obviously people can ignore such input, but ensuring that the best possible data is available will imho make a difference.
Here's another spin on Woodwalker's thoughts. One indication of a strong local community is strong content about those communities.
Some interesting research and visualizations at a country scale is at this web site. The author writes:
- The country with the most articles is the United States (almost 90,000 articles), while most small island nations and city states have less than 100 articles. However, it is not just microstates that are characterised by extremely low levels of wiki representation. Almost all of Africa is poorly represented in Wikipedia. Remarkably there are more Wikipedia articles written about Antarctica than all but one of the fifty-three countries in Africa (or perhaps even more amazingly, there are more Wikipedia articles written about the fictional places of Middle Earth and Discworld than about many countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia).
User:Aprabhala posted something in a similar vein over at Talk:Task force/India. Note that this research is only from English Wikipedia. We'd want to do comparable research for specific language Wikipedias.
Compare these two images:
As far as I understand it the first image shows the surface of the earth at night , and the second the number of articles about the area (log-scale). Not very suprising, the correlation between electric light and number of articles seems to be quite high.
Now I think the following picture displays the number of named geographic places in the world: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geonames4.png
As pointed out, the correlation between actuall places and number of articles in an area is therefore not at all as well correlated.
However, is geographic information as sought for in all regions? The amount of geographic articles in a region might be a good meassure of how represented that region is, but I don't think the most important thing is to rise the number of geographic articles in any under represented region. Rather I think the number of articles that fit together with the culture of a given region is more importan. Can e.g. articles about agriculture, music, dance and diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV be of greater importance in Africa than in western countries where we maybe like to read about the Eifel tower (now I revealed my prejudices that all Africans as farming, non educated, dancing and singing people with deadly diseases, well that was not what I meant, but I hope you understand the point :) ).
Powerful images and analysis! I copied these charts and thoughts over to Local content.
I agree, geographic information is an indicator, but it's not necessarily the most important type of content. We need to get a better understanding of the type of content that would be valuable for different regions.